Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

shadow of the vampire poster 2000 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Dafoe, good visuals

Strange pacing and story won't sit with everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Shadow of the Vampire

Studio:  BBC Films

Genre(s):  Horror/Drama

Release Date(s):  December 29, 2000

MPAA Rating:  R


It will be mine…Oh, yes, it will be mine!

Frederich Wilhelm Murnau (John Malkovich) has been hired to bring the story of Dracula to the screen.  With an unlicensed adaptation named Nosferatu, Murnau and his crew set out to make a vampire picture.  Murnau chooses his Count Orlok…a strange character actor named Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe) who comes in his own make-up, refuses to break character, or associate with the crew beyond his scenes.  Schreck and Orlok have more in common than it seems.  Schreck is a vampire and when he begins to kill members of the crew, Murnau finds himself at odds with him to finish his masterpiece.


Seriously…back off, dude!

Directed by E. Elias Merhige, Shadow of the Vampire is a horror film based around the making of the 1922 silent German Expressionism classic Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens.  The movie was praised by critics and nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Dafoe) and Best Makeup.

I always found Count Orlok to be one of the creepier vampires on screen.  The pointy teeth and ears and the long nails goes against most portrayals of Dracula.  His appearance influenced the 1979 Salem’s Lot’s Kurt Barlow which also creeped me out as a child and seeing Dafoe playing a vampire with this look was a must…and the film is a lot more.


Malkovich seen competing in the “who’s crazier” competition.

I highly recommend watching Nosferatu before seeing this picture.  The first time I saw the movie I hadn’t seen Nosferatu, but was familiar with the imagery.  The second viewing, I had just watched Nosferatu, and it did enrich the picture.  The movie (obviously) is fiction and Schreck worked before and after Nosferatu was made and the same is true of Marnau.  The tone of the film reminds me a lot of the 2002 horror comedy Bubba Ho-Tep but a bit more horror (and still a twinge of comedy).

The acting in the movie is top notch.  Dafoe steals the film as Orlok but through some great dialogue actually gets him to be a rather sympathetic character (the speech about Dracula having to prepare dinner for Harker in Dracula in particular is effective).  Dafoe is backed up by a great performance from Malkovich as the obsessed director.  Other supporting actors include Udo Kier, Cary Elwes, Eddie Izzard, and Catherine McCormack.


I’m ready for my close-up!

The look of the film is fantastic.  The movie does a great job recreating scenes from Nosferatu.  That is one benefit of watching Nosferatu first is that you can see how closely the movie was able to match imagery from the iconic film.  Add to that the great makeup on the unrecognizable Willem Defoe and you have a great pairing.

I enjoyed Shadow of the Vampire the first time I saw it, but I enjoyed it more the second viewing.  I recommend the film for fans of the original Nosferatu as a fun add on and I do think it is interesting to see some of the earlier ways of making pictures.  With a great creation brought to life again, Shadow of the Vampire is a winner.

Related Links:

Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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